Movie Review - Dead Sea
Well, after months and months of failed attempts to catch Brandon Slagle's Dead Sea at one of the local conventions, I couldn't wait any longer. So I bought the DVD online and patiently waited for it to arrive. Now, from the cover of the DVD and the description of the film, one might either write this off as just another corny attempt at a 'Creature Feature,' or mistake it for one of it's intentionally cheesy counterparts like Piranha or Sharknado. Neither of which is accurate. In fact, Dead Sea is a story about a small town and the dynamics of the people who have inhabited it for their whole lives. And even though the villain of the film is a 'monster,' this film focuses more on the evil that lurks within the people that we call our neighbors. The DVD is available for purchase online at Amazon and other retailers.
A marine biologist is sent on assignment back to her hometown to investigate the mysterious deaths of thousands of fish in an inland salt water lake. But when she arrives, her past quickly begins to catch up with her. From a strained relationship with her father to her old classmates disdain toward her return, everything reminds her of exactly why she left in the first place. But as startling revelations make their way to light, the towns dark secrets become exposed. And in the end, Victoria is left wondering whether the real monster lies below the surface of the water or deep inside the hearts of the residents of the small town.
Mr. Slagle's film is beautifully shot, using an occasionally vibrant color scale against the extremely bleak backdrop provided by the location itself. There is a sense of despair in every frame, and the setting itself induces a deep feeling of claustrophobia. And more than anything, I appreciate the decision to leave the monster almost entirely to the viewers imagination, which is what separates this film from feeling like a 'B-Movie'. But that isn't the only thing that sets this one apart, the script itself is remarkably well written and actually quite poignant at times. There is a scene between Victoria and her father toward the end of the film that plays like an emotional punch in the gut. And the cast is fantastic, with a stand out performance from Alexis Iancono as the highly damaged Victoria, who returns to town only to quickly remember why she left in the first place. Brandon Slagle is cold and unfeeling as Kier, though as the film progresses and we learn the reasons behind his disconnection, it's almost enough to make us empathize with him. And the always amazing Devanny Pinn is wonderfully apathetic as Auriel, a young girl much like Victoria, who feels trapped and desperate to find a way out.
My only small issue with this film was in the post-production, and it isn't even really an issue as much as a matter of taste. For me, the dialogue sits a little too low in the mix, which forced me to rewind a few times during the film because I was afraid I had missed something. I recently read an article where director Christopher Nolan defended the decision to mix his dialogue in the same manner on Interstellar, and I can appreciate an artistic choice as such. It does, however, make it more difficult for me to fully immerse myself in a film. That being said, this did not take away from my enjoyment of the movie as a whole, and I would still highly recommend Dead Sea for any fans of the genre. Order your copy today. Cheers.
- Leo Francis